Legal Affairs is one of the direct problem-solving arms of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs. The staff advises all City agencies on questions of policy that arise due to the presence in New York of the United Nations, foreign governments and their personnel.
Legal Affairs works directly with City agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Finance (DOF), Environmental Control Board (ECB), Department of Buildings (DOB), and Police Department (NYPD), as well as with local community boards. These institutions frequently seek the Office's advice on the applicability of various U.S. treaty provisions, and federal, state, and local laws as such relate to the international resident community.
Legal Affairs also assists the United Nations, as well as foreign diplomats and consular officers in navigating possible legal issues encountered while working and residing in New York City. Additionally, the staff assists citizens and businesses of New York City with complaints or problems related to the international community.
Legal inquiries from missions and consulates frequently relate to leases, purchase and sale of property, banking and taxation, contracts and commercial law, criminal law, legal procedure, and privileges and immunities. Requests for assistance from individual diplomats involve insurance questions, consumer protection matters, customs and immigration law, and a wide variety of real estate transactions.
Legal Affairs serves as the conduit for the diplomatic and consular community to the respective City agencies able to assist in resolving such issues and provides information on various other legal resources. Furthermore, the agency offers voluntary alternative dispute resolution for the United Nations and foreign government resident personnel, as well as for individuals and businesses within the City of New York should they encounter legal issues with the international resident community.
While the Office does assist in providing information on resources for a wide spectrum of legal issues through Legal Affairs, the Office does not actually represent any party.